Born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in the Jewish tradition of eat, eat, eat, one of Hawaii’s most celebrated chefs, Bev Gannon, reminisces, “It’s what really got me interested in food and its preparation. I think it’s still what people want: the kind of warm, comforting food that came out of Mom’s kitchen provided, of course, that Mom was a good cook!” Bev’s passion for food combined with her love of island-inspired dishes, is the reason why Bev Gannon has become a culinary powerhouse and has enjoyed ardent followers and critical acclaim across the country.
Before embarking on her culinary career though, Bev was the road manager for Liza Minnelli, Joey Heatherton and Ben Vereen. “It was so much fun, but after five years, I realized it was time to get serious and follow my passion for cooking.” She enrolled in London’s Le Cordon Bleu, took classes with Marcella Hazan and Jacques Pepin, and her fever for food was further ignited.
In 1980, Bev and her husband moved to Maui and started a popular catering company, Fresh Approach, now known as Celebrations Catering, currently the longest running catering company on the island. In 1987, the Gannons took over the lease for the old Hali‘imaile General Store, once a plantation store for Upcountry pineapple workers. They kept the name and opened the doors in 1988. The Store, as Bev calls it, is now one of Maui’s most popular and award-winning restaurants. Described as “eclectic American with Asian overtones,” The Store was just the next chapter in Bev’s culinary journey.
Once Hali‘imaile General Store was established and recognized internationally as an inspired dining destination, the Gannons decided to open a second restaurant. This time, it would be “downtown” in the resort community of Wailea. Named for her husband, Joe’s debuted in November 1995. Several months later, readers of The Maui News voted Joe’s “Best New Restaurant” on the island. Joe’s down-home menu features comfort food using fresh, local ingredients. Favorites include a pan-seared New York Streak with creamed spinach and Joe’s Favorite Meatloaf.
Recently, the Gannons have embarked on their newest culinary adventure, Gannon’s, a Pacific View Restaurant. Opening in December of 2009, Gannon’s features modern Hawaiian regional cuisine, what Bev likes to call “now food,” and has quickly become a favorite combining spectacular food with volcano-to-ocean views. Gannon’s is the perfect venue for Bev to showcase her passion for Hawaiian culinary arts.
All of Bev’s restaurants offer some of the finest dining and best Hawaiian Regional Cuisine you will find throughout Hawaii, and the public agrees. From 1999-2010, she served as Corporate Chef for Hawaiian Airlines, designing all of the in-flight award-winning menus for this popular airline where her food was named “Best Food in the Air in North America” by readers of Conde Nast Traveler (2003, 2004 and 2006.)
She has also received numerous local awards for her culinary accomplishments — honored by her peers with the Maui No Ka ‘Oi Ai’pono Award for “Chef of the Year” in 2006; Honolulu Magazine’s coveted Hale ‘Aina Award in 1999 and again for five years in a row 2002 – 2006, and she was proclaimed Maui’s “Best Chef” in 1997, 2007, 2009 and again in 2010 by readers of The Maui News.
One of Bev’s most lasting legacies is that she is one of the original twelve founding members of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine Movement, which took local food to new heights in the 1990s, a movement that continues to grow and strengthen each year. This movement champions the concept of using fresh local ingredients in island menus rather than importing ingredients from out-of-state.
And her honors extend past the shores of Hawaii. Bev was nominated in 2004 for the prestigious James Beard Award for “Best Chef Hawaii/Pacific Northwest” and has made numerous television appearances including NBC’s Today Show, The CBS Morning Show, and multiple shows on cable’s popular Food Network. She was further honored as one of the Great Chefs of Hawai‘i, a series on the Discovery Channel. Bev’s honors have not been limited only to food though. In 2008, she was awarded the distinguished honor of being chosen as the “Small-Business Person of the Year” for Hawaii.
After years of having customers and friends beg for her recipes, Chef Bev granted their wishes with The Hali‘imaile General Store Cookbook, published in 2001 by prestigious cookbook publisher 10 Speed Press (Berkeley, California). Her recipes have also appeared in Anthony Dias Blue’s book America’s Kitchen (1995) and she’s the only Hawaii chef included in Women of Taste, a cookbook that showcases 30 of America’s best female chefs (1997). Following the success of her first cookbook, in 2009 Bev published her second cookbook, “Family Style Meals at the Hali‘imaile General Store” which has become a favorite among her fans the world over.
From celebrated chef, successful restaurateur, airline Corporate Chef to published writer, Bev Gannon is a culinary celebrity whose star continues to rise to delectable new heights.